DESKTOP ERROR: Very impressive Noise Pop from Thailand
One day, listening to Shoegazer Sanctuary, a great radio on Sound Cloud (Sanctuary), I came across “Desktop Error”. It was not a fault with my computer or the soundtrack of the humoristic series “the IT crowd” (I know, I should stop trying to be funny): it is a very, very good band from Thailand.
They are noise artists who play well and beautiful music, singing in Thai and mixing the indie, shoegaze and traditional Thai styles. I immediately fell in love with their song าค้าง Nam Khang (dew). It is very different from all the nu-gaze I had heard. It made me want to discover their work further. What I found is worthy of being shared.
Noise Artists invite you to discover Desktop Error:
1. This week, below, discover their music. All their albums are reviewed in detail song by song. The band, which reviewed all material before posting, were very happy with the content.
2. Next week you will get to know the band more, in a quick presentation. There will also be the interview of the man behind the sound, Koichi Shimizu, their record label manager and sound engineer extraordinaire.
3. The week after, a great interview
We hope you will enjoy reading all this, and that, like us, Desktop Error will become one of your favourite bands.
The comparison game
To start with, it is always fun to play the comparison game with other bands. From the outside, the recipe for Desktop Error could be:
- Shake some Ride and Radiohead together for the guitars and their capacity to complement each other very well, their flair for mixing melodies and using sound effect without abuse,
- Add a bass player that understands how to blend support and melodies, without being too linear, much like Colin Greenwood, Radiohead’s bass player,
- Supplement with a drummer that keeps everything together well and have a rich repertoire of rhythms and sounds,
- Sprinkle a pinch of traditional Thai music and some flair for melodies.
Stir together: here you have Desktop Error.
Why we Love them
A unique sound: Desktop Error bring very well together modern indie pop/shoegaze/Post-rock with some traditional Thai music influence. This is not an easy one to pull.
They sing in Thai: while it has certainly resulted in Desktop Error not having the fame they deserve, it anchors Desktop Error’s music in their roots. It is a strength of their music. Thai also goes very well with their work.
They are good musicians: beginning as a cover band can streamline you in a style. It can also make you learn from great artists and progress very quickly in technic, sound and style. It has happened with Desktop Error. While you recognise some of their influence, it is never too much, but scattered here and there among their songs. As time progresses, they also digested their beginnings and make their own unique style as time went by. These are the sign of a great band.
They know how to create a piece of music rather than just a song: With many bands, when you listen to the beginning of a song, you build an expectation. The rest of the song is often close to this expectation. One advice here: do not skip the song once you have started because your expectation is likely to be wrong. The way Desktop Error build their songs is not conventional. It takes elements from a more classical approach to songwriting, and include a non-linearity inherited from Radiohead, a sound from a mix of shoegaze and Pink Floyd. This makes their work so interesting to listen to, for musicians as well as for music lovers.Their guitar lines merge beautifully: the 3 guitar players, Lek, Adisak and Wuttipong, work extremely well together. They complement each other in melody and sound, always adding to the quality of the piece rather than being another layer. They pedal boards are used to good effect (pun intended), with many different sound textures, ranging from shoegaze to indie rock and ambient post-rock.
A Great rhythm section: the bass player, Chanarong, is not linear, and supplement the songs both in rhythm and melody, knowing when to depart from the usual bass patterns to make the song better, sometimes going against the flow it to make it edgier. As a bass player myself, I love his work. The drummer, Phatharhaphon, has a very rich repertoire of rhythms and textures, which is not always the case in bands. This adds to the overall rich sound.A great sound engineer. Koichi’s work is second to none, and the great sound that Desktop Error have on their recording is a tribute to his expertise.·
And overall because it is excellent music
Our top 5 songs
Here are NOISE ARTISTS favourite 5 songs:
1. น้ําค้าง Nam Khang - Dew. It combines beautiful melodies, a powerful progression, and great sound. A striking song. The acoustic live version, that can be watched on YouTube, also confirm that stripped of the reverb and all electric effects, it is still a great song. It is a perfect representation of their style, mixing shoegaze/indie influences with a pinch of Thai traditional music.
2. ทุกทุกวัน - Everyday. From their first Album, this upbeat song has reached number one in the Thai indie charts. There is no surprise as this song would have reached many number one around the world, has it been sung by more famous bands in English. It is that good and the closest to a pop hit that they have. You can feel some Radiohead influence in the upwards guitar arpeggios or the non-linear bass play that fit so well in the song.
3. ปัจจุปันนา - Pud Ju Pun Na. Beginning with loops of a single reverb guitar, sounding angry, supplemented by a droning sound in the far, this song quickly evolves in a beautifully crafted noisy pop song. It includes the beautiful textures with reverb, 3 guitars all playing in polyphony, adding a thick texture. It may be the most representative song to illustrate their work. It includes the tension of the beginning work, a more mature sound and a greatly designed progression between the piece’s different phases. If Radiohead had veered towards shoeagazing, they may have sounded like this.
4. ควันจางลา - As smoke clears. Also from the last album, As smokes clears, is again a great song. It starts as a nice indie pop song, with clear and simple guitars. It increases in intensity, first with Lek’s voice and adding a droning keyboard, to subside, as the smoke clears. It then opens in an epic ending heralded by clear guitars, then gathering momentum with all the instruments joining the fray for a beautiful finale. The feeling of this last part is very uplifting, like seeing a beautiful countryside, or the person you love when the smoke clears and your heart begins to pound with joy.
5. ภาพลวงตา - mirage. This song is great because it does not end where you were expecting to have it. Strange harmonies to begin with, culminating in a grandiose reverberating and distorted finale. Bass if off-kilted adding to the strangeness.
Instinct (EP) - 2006
1. Instinct 4:25
2. ส่วนลึก (Depth) 2:54
3. ท้องฟ้าจำลอง (Planetarium) 7:13
4. ย้อน (Return) 8:07
5. Mind 4:28
6. สมใจ (As expected) 4:58
The first two songs from this EP are like an introduction piece to Desktop Error’s whole music. It starts with Instinct which almost begins like a frantic soundtrack-like piece, in the spirit of Velouria from the Pixies, but with a post-rock sound. The sound of a crowd in the background makes us think it could have been recorded live.
The second piece, Mind, is a complete contrast to the first. It is very calm and soothing with guitars hinting the traditional Thai feeling that is part of their music. Again, it appears to have been recorded live. The chatter in the background accentuates the soothing effect of the music. It is like being seating at a café, near nature on a sunny day. For those interested, there is a post-rock live version on YouTube, which is very different, but equally good. This song also features on “every little smile”, an album that was done to help Thai flood victims in 2011.
The rest of the EP has a Radiohead feel to it, in the songs are composed, and the instruments interact with each other. It has a dual feeling where calmness answers to energy, dissonance to melodies, off-kilter instruments to very linear ones. It introduces a tension to the music and the EP, that will be found again in Ticket to home, their first album. It sometimes starts with different intentions and then coalesces into something else.
Some songs, like ท้องฟ้าจำลอง - Planetarium and สมใจ- As expected have great end parts that combine shoegazing energy and melodies, in a Ride-like spirit, but finer in the melodic construction. They must be fantastic in a live situation. Planetarium has parts that remind me of Pink Floyd songs in spirit.
Some other, show more subtle construction, like ย้อน – Return, which has an airy reverb guitar in the background, while the trio of voices, bass and drums are more in the front, unfolding a nice melody. It is almost a forefront piece for shoegazing with the duality of pop melody on one side, and sound crafting on the other side. It ends in a bridge that mixes these 2 energies very well. Clearly the most shoegaze of the album by far. The drone guitars at the back have a Cocteau Twins twinge to it.
Overall it is a great introduction to their music and forecast to where they are heading.
Ticket to home – 2009
1. Ticket to Home 5:08
2. ทุกทุกวัน (Took took Wan - everyday) 3:27
3. คืนที่ไม่ปกติ (The night is strange)
4. ภาพลวงตา (View) 5:02
5. คู่ขนาน (Parallel) 2:20
6. พาฝัน (Mirage) 4:51
7. ขอ (- Kor - Ask) 3:08
8. เดินไปใน (Walk-in) 3:35
9. Vapor 2:07
10. อย่างน้อย (At least) 4:08
11. วัฎจักร (Cycle) 3:38
Their first album, Ticket to home, is a continuity of the EP. It still includes a tension in their music, albeit diminished in comparison, but introduces more pop aspects, like with their hit song Took took Wan, and more traditional Thai influence. They seem to be getting more at peace with their music, maybe with themselves.
It starts with a nice acoustic piece, ticket to home, using a Thai traditional instrument with a little organ droning at the back at the beginning. As the song unfolds, some bass guitar and drums come to complement the instrument. The song then gets a great energy in this Thai instrument, and it is very easy to imagine how it could be transposed in a complete electric piece with powerful guitars, pedal effects and the boost of the rhythm section. The fact that they kept this traditional feeling illustrates well, that past and present converges in their music and energy is not something that was only born from electricity.
The song คู่ขนาน - Parallel is little interlude piece. 2 guitars playing together calmly. It has an urban feeling to it, enhanced by the street noises included in the background. It is like waiting for the train or bus in a café nearby. Maybe that is where they found the Album title, ticket to home, and wrote it on the coffee-stained napkin that features on the CD cover.
I cannot help to like ขอ - Kor - Ask, for personal reasons. It is very close in harmonies and composition of a song I know well: “Song for Estelle” from the Smiling Marianne. I was pleased to know that Kor reached the top 10 Thai indie chart.
The song เดินไปใน - Walk-in has a nice Canned Heat, On the road again, feeling with a bluesy fuzz guitar. It seems they got on the bus or train they were waiting and are on the way home. Very upbeat and light song. Again a great one for a car journey. Your foot starts beating on its own when you listen to this.
Vapor is another interlude, with an ambient shoegaze atmosphere coming from the guitar reverbs. The title may be an homage to Vapour Trail from Ride, even if the song is very different. It is their only ambient song.
อย่างน้อย - At least has a heavier rhythm. It could have translated into a heavy/muddy song. Desktop Error avoided astutely this trap by transforming the song into a light poppy song with a nice MBV-like guitar as a bonus plus a distorted solo at the end that enhances the whole piece. A great example of how their songwriting if capable of inventiveness.
The last song, วัฎจักร- (Cycle is a nice guitar ballad with a little drum of bass. A very acoustic piece with only some electric bits to enhance the songwriting.
Keep looking at the window - 2014
1. กุญแจผี (Ghost Key) 6:17
2. ควันจางลา (As smoke clears) 5:21
3. เปลี่ยนทิศ (Changing direction) 5:00
4. เปลือยเปล่า (Nude) 4:00
5. ไม่ต่าง (No different) 5:51
6. ปัจจุปันนา (Currently Pun Na) 5:48
7. น้ําค้าง (Nam Kang - Dew) 6:57
8. พัก (Rest) 4:3
9. พบ พา ลา จาก (Meet and leave) 4:40
10. ต่างด้าว (Alien) 6:13
11. นิทานวันวาน (Tales of yesterday) 4 :21
Desktop Error third opus find their music with the same energy, but more at peace with itself. The internal tension between instruments, and between the different phases of the songs, has mainly subsided, leaving space for the songs’ melody to unfold. There is a more mature, more content feeling to it.
Again, their first song, กุญแจผี -Ghost key, is a great introduction to both the album and their music, mixing modern indie music and traditional Thai under-currents.
ควันจางลา - As smoke clears, begins as a nice pop ballade with jangle pop-like guitars. Then a tension is introduced for a few chords, before a beautiful clear guitar bring it into space and great end, the progression is beautifully done. The piano arpeggios strengthen the elevated feeling that the song procure.
เปลี่ยนทิศ - Changing direction begins like a little ballad, included only Lek singing and a lonely guitar. Very nice little piece, with a quick powerful 30-second electric part in the middle. It then finishes as it begins, very simply. Nice little ballad with a twist.
เปลือยเปล่า - Nude Almost folk song with a very lively drum pattern, the use of slide guitar to give it an almost US style. On the road again in a small rickety car. The bass adds a counterpoint, and the harmonica join at end to increase energy, and the road trip feeling. Great for a car journey.
ไม่ต่าง - No different, is a shoegaze song with a sound texture that reminds me of Cocteau twins. More ambient, more dreamy than most of their song.
ปัจจุปันนา - Currently Pu Na, is a great song. Great guitar opening with far away drone reverbs, and a strong drum comes in to give it power. It is a shoegaze song, but different by the way the drums are shaping the song and by the structure. Harmonies are more fine than usual pure shoegaze. Sound is beautifully crafted around the reverbs and guitar. The end is Ride-like with a purer sound (like mixed with Slowdive)
น้ําค้าง -Namh Kang (Everyday) is simply a beautiful song, with a fade-in done very nicely on the into, bringing us to beautiful shoegazing type chords, before throwing the guitar progression and bass for power, before the voice joins in a great game of harmonies. Just listen. This is great music.
พัก - Rest is a very lick guitar song with harmonies. Mainly centered on acoustic guitar with a small solo complementing it and several voices singing (the whole band?). seen in the recording session on YouTube. The fact that it was a live recording actually is quite impressive as balance and sound are great. Thanks Koichi.
พบ พา ลา จาก - Meet and leave, begins with a muddier traditional shoegaze/dream pop feeling, heavy on the reverb guitars, simple drums. Bass is a bit more off-kilted on the verse, to become very melodic on chorus settling the song.
างด้าว - Alien is different. Again a great guitar, with a more alternative rock feeling. The end is more reminiscent of a Ride song, calm then not post-rock feeling
The appropriately named นิทานวันวาน - Tales of Yesterday, has a traditional Thai feeling about it, with guitars being used instead of any Thai instrument. The way it is built and the harmonies are a soothing end to a great album.
Where to buy their music
Instinct EP: I have not found a place to buy unfortunately
Ticket to home: flakerecords
Keep looking at the Window: Itunes (mp3) & Amazon.com (mp3)
do not hesitate to send them a word to put their music on band camp. We are trying to convince them. We hope to have good news soon.
Desktop Error makes excellent music, thanks to an original song building, good musicians, mesmerising sound textures and the traditional Thai influence they keep.
They are the first stop in our Noise Artists tour, and what a first stop …
Discovering them sent me in my new journey in discovering Noise Artists around the world. For that, and their great music, I thank them.
Read more about them in Noise Artists this month with a presentation of the band, an interview, and the interview from their sound engineer.